Putting the heart in gift giving

Year after year the desire to give my children their world on a silver platter must be reconciled with my reluctance to become an over-active participant in the snowballing commercialism of the holiday season. In looking back at what my kids most treasured, it was the simple things: the blocks, a stuffed animal, puzzles, their own personal stash of art supplies, new pajamas, and books- not to mention all the cool boxes and bows and wrapping paper!! They did not watch commercial TV so their desires came from the heart. Once, as we walked downtown the day after Thanksgiving to see Santa arrive at his little house on Main Street, I wondered what one thing they would ask for: “a purple Koosh ball”;“a cow bell”; “a candy cane- I have lots of toys already”   

As you shop for your kids, keep this in mind. So many of the toys out there promote violence, stifle creativity, and lead to intense frustration when they break within three days. How often have we spent a fortune on something that could not be lived without, only to have it forgotten and stashed in a closet after the novelty has worn off. With the economy in its current state, what better time to introduce (perhaps again) the simple pleasures?
  • a tote or drawstring bag with fabric paint or markers, in which to carry their “stuff”
  • a special book accompanied by audio tape of you narrating the story
  • a dress up suitcase full of clothes, hats, jewelry, ties, vests, boas, face paint, costumes…
  • a creative art kit consisting of a wide variety of art supplies
  • a memory game made of snapshots (double prints) of your child
  • a bucket of ingredients, including recipes for play dough, bubbles, finger paint, etc.
  • a tool box full of safe miscellaneous tools, measuring devices, child-sized apron, and a whole supply of wood pieces
  • a coupon book made by you with special coupons highlighting special activities, privileges, fun foods, etc.
  • a gardening kit made up of gardening tools, various seeds, flower pots, soil, gloves, and a watering can in a sturdy basket
  • a jewelry or treasure box kit that you put together consisting of a plain wooden box to decorate, and a variety of decorative items like gemstones, glitter, lace, sparkles, beads, etc. (and don’t forget the tacky glue!)
Children need to understand that the holidays are not all about what’s in it for them.
  • Participate in Project Christmas. Choose a tag from one of the Christmas Trees found in grocery and department stores and banks. Help your child select an appropriate gift; or help with the packing and/or delivery of boxes
  • Make a donation to the Food Pantry through the school, your church, Tops…
  • As a family, choose a charity to send a contribution to.
  • Don’t forget the Salvation Army Santas: They are out there ringing for contributions no matter what the weather! The Salvation Army often enlists families to participate in their b
    ell ringing campaign.
  • Invite a lonely neighbor to share a holiday dinner.
While you are making plans to create a magical season for the children, remember to put the emphasis on giving. Don’t forget those people who truly need your help.- RDW (1998, revised 2009)

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